Backstrom fuels Caps' stunning 4-3 comeback

backstrom.jpgWith his team down 3-0 and NHL scoring leader Alex Ovechkin gone after a controversial first period hit, Nicklas Backstrom picked a great time to take hold of the spotlight. The Swedish center was the catalyst of Chicago’s second consecutive third period collapse with two goals and one assist, including the overtime game winner. This 4-3 win gives the Washington Capitals 101 points for the season, making them the first team in the NHL to hit 100 points.

For the first two periods of the game, it seemed that Ovechkin’s hit would be the only truly relevant storyline in a match dominated by the Blackhawks. Washington allowed two Jonathan Toews goals in the first period and then fell behind 3-0 when John Madden deftly re-directed a puck past Jose Theodore in the second. The Capitals went into the locker room looking downright listless.

Who knows what Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said to his young team during the second intermission, because Washington absolutely dominated the third period. Beginning with a PP goal by Brooks Laich, the Caps managed to score three goals in less than 2:30 of game time. In fact, the second and third goals came only 13 seconds apart.

Chicago must find a way to move on from what must be an extremely discouraging weekend. The Flyers beat the Blackhawks in an equally heart breaking fashion on Saturday, with Chicago coughing up a 2-1 lead by allowing two goals in the last two minutes (including a Chris Pronger game winner with only 2.1 seconds left). That’s two games in a row in which Chicago allowed 3 goals in the third period and only managed to take 1 out of 4 points in those contests. Could it be that Chicago’s problems go beyond their frequently criticized goalies?

No doubt about it, this is a huge win for the Capitals. Washington could have made plenty of excuses. Instead, they played an inspired final period against a team that many believe is the best in the NHL. Don’t be surprised if people look back at this game as the moment when Washington truly became an elite (and possibly Cup winning?) team.

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    Fantasy Adds & Drops: Splurge on Spurgeon

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    Every week, PHT will aim to help its readers by providing some fantasy hockey advice. This column will try to help you navigate through the rough waters of your league’s waiver wire.

    We’ll tell you which players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues need to be added and we’ll also look at players it’s time to cut ties with.

    Here we go:

    Adds:

    Jared Spurgeon-D- Minnesota Wild (owned in 44 percent of leagues)

    The Wild blue liner has been out with a groin injury for the last couple of weeks, but head coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned that he’s already started skating. Despite missing the last six games, he’s still on pace to hit the 50-point mark this season. Even if he misses another game or two, he’s certainly worth adding off the waiver wire. Pick him up before someone else does.

    Tom Wilson-LW/RW- Washington Capitals (44 percent)

    Wilson has been putting up points lately, as he has seven points during a three-game point streak. I don’t expect that type of offensive output to continue, but he’s certainly worth adding if you play in a league that awards points for penalty minutes.

    Reilly Smith-LW/RW- Vegas Golden Knights (35 percent)

    Somehow, the Golden Knights and their players continue to get the job done. Smith was an afterthought when Vegas acquired him from the Panthers, but he’s been terrific so far. He has 22 points in 29 games this season, which puts him on pace to surpass the 60-point mark. Smith doesn’t have a high ceiling, but his floor appears to be pretty stable.

    [More Fantasy: Check out RotoWorld’s Waiver Wired column]

    Tyler Johnson-C- Tampa Bay Lightning (32 percent)

    While Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were getting off to ridiculous starts, Johnson came out of the gate pretty slowly. On the bright side, he seems to have woken up. Johnson is currently riding a four-game point streak and he’s picked up points in six of his last seven games. Can he keep it up though?

    Tomas Hertl-C/LW- San Jose Sharks (27 percent)

    For the first time this season, Hertl has collected at least one point in three straight games. It’s probably still a little early to trust him with an add, but I just wanted to make sure he popped up on your fantasy radar. He’s currently on pace to hit the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his career. Hertl is also seeing plenty of ice time, so this could be the start of a good scoring run for him.

    Kyle Connor-LW- Winnipeg Jets (17 percent)

    I’ve mentioned Connor’s name in this column a couple of times, but he continues to be under-valued in fantasy. The 21-year-old is on pace to score over 30 goals and almost 60 points this season. He appears to be over the lower-body injury that cost him a game last week, so there’s no reason not to pick him up.

    [RotoWorld’s In the Crease column has all your fantasy goalie advice]

    Drops:

    Cam Atkinson-RW- Columbus Blue Jackets (62 percent)

    After he scored 35 goals last year, nobody could have predicted the meteoric slide that Atkinson has been on this season. The Jackets still rewarded him with a contract extension a few weeks ago, but that hasn’t woken him up from his slumber. Finally, on Saturday night, head coach John Tortorella decided to make him a healthy scratch. Atkinson has no points in his last six games and just two goals (in the same game) in his last 15.

    Brendan Gallagher-RW- Montreal Canadiens (59 percent)

    Gallagher has had a terrific season for the Canadiens, but there’s no way he’s going to be able to hit the 35-goal pace he’s currently on. The Habs winger hasn’t picked up a point in three games and he’s carried a minus-5 rating during that stretch. Gallagher is the heart-and-soul of the Canadiens, but that doesn’t translate into fantasy points.

    Malcolm Subban-G- Vegas Golden Knights (46 percent)

    Now that Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) has been activated off the injured list, Subban won’t see as much action. In fairness to Subban, he’s been really good when called upon this season, but he simply doesn’t need to be owned in any fantasy leagues unless Fleury is injured again.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    PHT Morning Skate: Is it time for the Sens to trade Erik Karlsson?

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

    • Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill isn’t worried about Jimmy Howard‘s recent slide. (MLive.com)

    • The ESPN roundtable discusses whether or not the Senators should consider trading Erik Karlsson. The answer to this one seems pretty easy. (ESPN.com)

    • Certain NHLers prefer not wearing a helmet during pre-game warmups so they can show off their hair. (Sports Illustrated)

    • The Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the top penalty-killing units in the NHL. It’s so good, it’s even won them games. (Columbus Dispatch)

    Jamie Benn has struggled to find the back of the net over the last 10 games, but he’s not the only Dallas Star that needs to get going. (Dallas Morning News)

    • The Montreal Canadiens have a couple of days off after their ugly loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. They have plenty to figure out before they take on the Devils on Thursday. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

    • The Devils expected a lot from young forward Pavel Zacha, but 2017-18 hasn’t been his year so far. How can they get his development back on the track? (NJDab.com)

    Alex Ovechkin and the Caps have been rolling of late. They’ll look to keep that going in a game against the Islanders. (DCpuckdrop.com)

    • With whiffs of expansion in the air, hockey fans and bar owners are excited to find out whether or not Seattle can become a hockey town. (National Post)

    • Even though they’re one of the teams that’s scored the least amount of goals this season, Fear the Fin doesn’t believe that the Sharks need to make a trade for a scoring forward. (Fear the Fin)

    • Team USA will look to repeat as World Junior Hockey Championship champions. Here’s a full preview of what the roster might look like. (The Hockey Writers)

    P.K. Subban was really good in the game he played against his brother, Malcolm, and the Vegas Golden Knights. (Predlines.com)

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    The Buzzer: McElhinney with the McShutout, Schenn scores again

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    Players of the Night: 

    Curtis McElhinney, Toronto Maple Leafs:

    McElhinney turned aside all 41 shots that came his way as the Leafs shutout the Edmonton Oilers 1-0. The Leafs backup improved to 3-2-0 on the season and his save percentage jumped from .900 to 9.25. Toronto has now won three straight and six of their past 10.

    Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues:

    Schenn notched his sixth goal in his past four games and extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a goal 40 seconds into the game. The Blues are now winners of four straight and six of their past 10.

    Eric Stall, Minnesota Wild & Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: 

    Both scored twice for their respective teams in an entertaining 4-3 win for the Wild in overtime.

    Highlight of the Night: 

    Vladimir Tarasenko catches the Sabres defense sleeping in overtime, scoring his first non-empty net goal in nine games:

    Factoid of the Night: 

    Patrick Kane didn’t score, but his two assists were instrumental in giving the Chicago Blackhawks a victory on Sunday.

    Scores: 

    Blackhawks 3, Coyotes 1

    Blues 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

    Maple Leafs 1, Oilers 0

    Wild 4, Sharks 3


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Alex Burrows fined $5,000 for roughing

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    Alex Burrows won’t be on Dylan DeMelo‘s Christmas card list this year.

    Not after Burrows swiped DeMelo in the face with the butt-end of his stick on Saturday night.

    Burrows got slapped with a $5,000 fine for roughing on Sunday night, the maximum permissible under the CBA. The money is one thing, but Burrows and the Senators have bigger issues at the moment.

    It didn’t help the little incident happened in the third period and the game all but over for the Senators. Here’s the slow-mo shot of the infraction:

    DeMelo suffered a scratch cornea and narrowly missed a major eye injury, according to Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer. 

    DeMelo was in the lineup for the Sharks on Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.

    Burrows’ $5,000 goes to the player’s Emergency Assistance Fund.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck